Joshua 1: Be Strong and Courageous

Everyone, we have a courage problem. In everyday life, we lack confidence. We lack the vigour to attack the day with strength.

We are in a battle each day, a battle to get out of bed, a battle to clean our teeth, a battle to put our makeup on, a battle to make the right decisions.

In fact, I struggle to get out of bed everyday. Maybe there’s a pill or vitamin I’m missing? Maybe some cream that I can wipe on my face and it’ll give me confidence to face the day?

Or, that’s what our culture and our advertising is telling us.
“Maybe she was born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline”.
The “it” ads tell us she has is “confidence” or “courage” in her own skin. If we look on TV we might think that’s confidence is only a problem women struggle with. But that’s far from the truth.

It’s a human problem.
It’s not a problem that is unique to us in the this time and place.
We have struggled with confidence and courage for generations.
It’s not just a millennial thing, or a gen X thing, or a problem that our parents had.

It’s a human sin thing.

Today, we’re going to learn the secret to confidence and courage. And believe me, I’m not just making this up. I’m not lying to you. I’m not an ad company! This comes directly from God’s word. Are you ready to look at it with me?

Look at the Text
Joshua and Israel: Why does Joshua need courage?

Moses is dead. The leader of Israel, since Egypt, 40 years, is dead. The One who God spoke to directly, gave the ten commandments, is dead. The one who represented Israel before Pharaoh, and directly liberated the Israelites from Egypt through the sea by miracles performed by God. The one who led Israel in the wilderness for 40 years, and wisely resolved disputes. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.

Joshua had big shoes to fill.
Imagine you were Joshua, if I was him, I would have a severe inferiority complex. What on earth did Joshua do?

He snuck into the promised land with Caleb and reported what he has seen. They would have had to have courage to do that, right? But Joshua was only a spy under the command of Moses. Not a leader.

Once more, he was only the leader because everyone else had died in the desert. Including Moses.
He and Caleb were the only two left from the generation of Israelites that were sinful and decided not to obey God.
Because they disobeyed, God punished them.
Including Moses.
They never set their feet in the promised land.

Joshua was only a spy, with limited talent and skill in leading. He and Caleb ended up being the defect leaders of Israel because everyone died!

It seems like he wasn’t the best candidate for leading Israel. Or is he?

Let’s look at the text.
Verse 1 says that Joshua was “Moses’ aide” and that Moses was God’s servant, and by inference, Joshua as his aide is servant of the Lord too.

An aide in this context means “minister” like in a cabinet in government, or maybe the “right-hand man” of Moses. It’s a different word to the one that is in the first verse which describes Moses as “the servant of the LORD”. This word carries with it more than a servant, but a close advisor.

So after 40 years, Joshua was more than a Spy, he was the leader in preparation.
He was trained by Moses, and he served with him in the 40 years wandering in the desert. Moses had taken him under his wing, and given him a forty year boot-camp in Israel leadership. Joshua had been helping Moses rule and guide the Israelites under the cloud and fire of the Lord in the desert.

So it’s not like Joshua pops onto the scene without little introduction, nor experience.
But Joshua still needs courage doesn’t he?

God says this to Joshua in verse 5 and 6:
“5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

God wants Joshua to understand that he want him to be courageous. If Joshua didn’t need to be courageous, God wouldn’t have told him to be courageous, would he?

And God, really, really wants Joshua to understand that he needs to be strong and courageous.

So much so, he tells him three times in verse 6, verse 7, verse 9.
“Be strong and courageous, BE strong and Courageous, Be strong and courageous.”

If I was in Joshua’s shoes, I’d be like,
“Well, thanks God. You’re telling me to be courageous and be strong, but that doesn’t help me to be courageous nor strong. That doesn’t give me the confidence I need to lead Israel.”

“And, it’s not helping me even though you’ve repeated it three times, that just makes me feel inadequate!”
So you’re studying for exams
And you’re really far behind in study
And that makes you anxious
I grab you by the shoulders and say “be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous”
And if I told you not to be anxious, would that help you not to be anxious?
No, probably not.
It wouldn’t make you feel really courageous would it? And if I were Joshua, I’d be confused, and going “But I don’t feel it! I don’t feel courageous.”

So Where does Courage come from?
Is courage something that someone can give us? Is confidence something that just appears in our lap dropped from heaven?

Maybe wrapped up in a box. They say “Here, here’s some courage. Unwrap it and apply it three times to your head, and you’ll be so courageous!”

Courage is not something that can be given or applied like ointment to the affected area.

And we can’t seek it out like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, and expect it to be given.

Let’s have a look at the text to find out how Joshua can be strong and courageous.

Courage comes because of who Joshua is trusting. The Key to understanding where courage comes from is looking at the reasons, the “because” statements that accompany God’s command to be “Strong and Courageous.” Look with me in verse 6:

Verse 6
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them”

And in Verse 9
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”

The two promises that God gives Joshua are:
Because you will lead these people
For I will be with you where you go.

Now, they’re pretty courage inspiring reasons, don’t you think?

Imagine if your lecturer gave you a very hard assignment. One which you didn’t know how to do, and do well. They say “BE strong and courageous. Do your assignment well, because I will help you every step of the way”

How would you feel then?
Pretty confident and courageous, right?

But it’s much better when God helps, rather than a lecturer, right?
He’s the one calling the shots of the whole universe, not just our assignment marks.
And we can completely trust God, because of who he is.
He’s not fallible and he has promised to keep keep his promises.

And I think that’s why God can command Joshua to be courageous and be strong.
It’s because God is God, and he can give confidence and courage because of who he is. We can be courageous, because can can rely on God, and take courage that he’ll be with us every step of the way. We might feel weak and timid, but we can be courageous because we trust God, not ourselves.

So, Where does our confidence lie?
Because the whole OT points to Jesus, we know the Joshua is pointing to Jesus as the true saviour of Israel. As Joshua means “Yhwh saves” so too does Jesus. Joshua and Jesus’ life are intertwined, with Joshua failing in many of the battles that Jesus conquered.
We’ll see the ups and downs of Joshua’s life along the way, and that will give us confidence in God and our trust of Jesus.
Jesus took on the battle of sin for us, so that we complete confidence to battle it ourselves. He’s given us room to fail because he’s given us complete confidence and courage that he’s already defeated sin.

So ask yourself:

Why do we have courage and confidence to battle sin?

Why would you aim to kill off the sin in your life little by little?

It’s because we have complete confidence that Jesus has killed it already, and we allow him by his Spirit to work in us to kill it!

Us and Courage
We need courage. More and more in society Christians are going to be called to defend their beliefs before our friends, family, and society at large.
We will need to Stand firm, be courageous, when we feel weak.
We need courage to stand firm against sin, and temptation.
Jesus gives us confidence and courage to stand up for the things which define us as Christians: The Gospel and how it impacts our lives.

Our battle vs. Joshua’s battle
Joshua was the one who led God’s people in the holy war against Israel’s enemies.
Jesus won the battle against Sin and Death
We fight sin in our lives while we wait to enter into the promised land of living with God for eternity.

So where does our confidence lie?
Where do we get our courage?

Is it from Social Media Influencers, that peddle us self-help slogans like “Wake up and be the Strong Woman you are”. “Drink this vegan soy-latte fruit juice and be courageous today!”
Or “You go girl, your courage and confidence lies within you, let your inner lioness roar!”

We are different to our world. We are not people of the world, we are the people of God. Our courage comes from God. So, We look at Jesus, who died for us, and God proclaims to us “Be strong and courageous, because I have sent my son to die for you!”

We look at the death and resurrection of Jesus, and we trust God, that he will bring us into his promised land, not as his slaves, but as his Sons and Daughters.

So, where does your confidence lie? Where does your courage come from?
If it’s anything but God, and his gospel, it’s an idol.
But if we’re trusting Jesus, we have full confidence that God will bring us home to him, for eternity. Are you trusting him?

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